Qantas has told travel agents in Zimbabwe to stop selling tickets after a warning from IATA that it’s becoming more difficult to move funds out of the country, according to a circular the airline sent to agents there.
Bloomberg news service says it has seen the letter, which asserts that Bank Settlement Plan Zimbabwe, the BSP system, owes Qantas a substantial amount.
Qantas regional manager Africa, Michi Messner, confirmed to Bloomberg she had sent the letter but referred further questions to IATA.
Zimbabwe, a beautiful and once-prosperous country that’s now an economic basket case, is currently battling a shortage of banknotes. It has used mainly the dollar since economic bungling and hyperinflation made its own currency worthless.
Zimbabwe was once one of the most successful and fertile nations on the African continent – exporting wheat, tobacco, and corn to the rest of Africa and beyond. President Robert Mugabe’s land reforms, which seized land from white farmers and redistributed it to the rural peasant population, proved so disastrous the economy nosedived. The local currency hit stratospheric inflation – 5 billion percent – and the Zimbabwe dollar was scrapped, with US dollars or South African rand used instead.
International airlines flying to Zimbabwe include Emirates, Ethiopian Airlines, South African Airways and Kenyan Airlines.
On 15 June 2015, the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe took the final step in the process of eliminating the country’s stricken sovereign currency. Zimbabwe dollars were decommissioned at a rate of 35 quadrillion per US dollar (that’s ZWD 35,000,000,000,000,000 for USD 1). Don’t ask for change.
Written by Peter Needham